Fears as UDA cease-fire is declared over

 

The chairman of the UDA's political wing has said the Northern Secretary's decision that the UDA cease-fire is over could spur the organisation to more violence.

Mr John White, the chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, said he was disappointed by Dr Reid's decision. "It will not be helpful and will send a signal to the vast majority of UDA people who supported the peace process that their contribution is no longer recognised," he said. "That might give them a licence to go out and do things they normally would not have done because of the restraints placed on them by that cease-fire."

Mr White also said "the vast majority of loyalists will be asking what about other paramilitaries, like the IRA, who have been taking part in the same activities that the UDA have been accused of".

The Minister for Foreign Affairs said Dr Reid's decision was a setback for the peace process but one which he had been "compelled" to take by the actions of the UDA/UFF and the LVF. Mr Cowen added that the move should "concentrate attention within those organisations on the absolute need to end all violent activity.

Democratic Unionist MP, Mr Nigel Dodds, said it was "obvious to everyone that all the main paramilitary organisations have broken their cease-fires over an extended period and therefore Dr Reid's decision comes as no surprise".

Mr Dodds also accused the British government of ignoring clear evidence of breaches of the IRA cease-fire saying Dr Reid had "taken the soft option".

Mr Gerry Kelly, Sinn FΘin's north Belfast MLA, said the UDA had been involved in an ongoing campaign against Catholics but Dr Reid only moved when it had attacked the RUC on Thursday night.

"What the British government has done today is accept what Catholic victims of the UDA have been telling them for well over a year," he said.

Ms Br∅d Rodgers, the SDLP Agriculture Minister in the Executive, said it was vital for confidence to be maintained in the peace process.

"People must know that those who flaunt the very principles on which the process is built can expect to pay a price.

"It is my firm hope that the Secretary of State and the Chief Constable will now move quickly to send those individuals behind the recent murder of Martin O'Hagan and the disgraceful violence in Belfast to prison where they belong," she said.